Sept. 26, 2017 – Jefferson County Commissioners will have a brief meeting Wednesday to deal with a “good” problem, according to Commission President Jimmie Stephens.
Wednesday’s meetings, arranged during today’s committee session, will be conducted to close the financial books as the fiscal year comes to a close.
“Really, that’s a good problem to have because our accounting is now up to date and we’re able to close our books out on time,” Stephens said. “When we came, they were five years behind in their audits.
“We’ve worked and worked and worked,” he continued. “For the last two years, we’ve been able to bring things back up. The audits are up to date, books are being closed on times, the budget is structurally balanced.”
On the subject of money, Stephens made his fellow commissioners aware of a $461,000 grant that has been made available to the county because of damage sustained during the 2011 tornadoes. He was alerted of the grant by a letter from Gov. Kay Ivy.
“We’re in the process now of determining the greatest need within the county in order to allocate those funds,” the commission president said. “It’s important we don’t leave any dollars on the table that will benefit the citizens of Jefferson County. That’s what we’re doing now, determining the highest and best use of those taxpayer dollars.”
Commissioners talked about the grant being used on storm shelters or perhaps tornado sirens. Maintenance of those sirens was the subject of discussion at a recent meeting of the Jefferson County Mayors Association.
Commissioner Joe Knight said maintenance of weather sirens has been an issue for many years. A couple of years ago, Jefferson County got all 254 tornado sirens in the county fixed, repaired or replaced
Knight said it’s been kind of a hodgepodge as to how the sirens were repaired and who repaired them. The county can’t maintain all the sirens for all the cities, he said, adding that some cities maintain the sirens within their limits.
Among the options being considered is for each city to maintain the sirens in its city or for the Emergency Management Agency to increase fees and use the money to handle the cost of maintenance. A third option is to phase out the sirens.
“I don’t think it’s time to eliminate the sirens,” Knight said.
Knight also talked about Monday’s marketing push in which the economic development team of Jefferson County, Birmingham and the Birmingham Business Alliance courted Amazon to come to Jefferson County.
“We did that (Monday) with a display of these giant Amazon boxes as a marketing tool to get people interested in it,” he said. “It’s our way of showing that we’re interested in Amazon. Birmingham, Jefferson County is a great place. We’d love to have their second headquarters here.
“It was either we do nothing or we make a play for it,” Knight continued. “In recent weeks, we decided we’d make a play for it. Why not? Why not Jefferson County? Why not Birmingham? If Birmingham or Jefferson County doesn’t land Amazon, maybe somebody else sees what we’ve done and says, ‘Hey, that looks like a pretty neat place.’ It’s a win-win for us.”